Free Markets, Free People

“You can’t make the poor rich by making the rich poorer”

That’s a quote from attributed to Abraham Lincoln* as delivered by Richard Epstein in his discussion of economic inequality (a meme that is all the rage right now). Interestingly enough, this interview was conducted and broadcast by PBS (as tree hugging sister notes “I’m sure whoever’s idea it was has been sacked. Along with all the llama trainers”).

In any event, this is as good a retort to the #OWS nonsense as you’ll likely find. Enjoy (HT: Insty):

Watch Does U.S. Economic Inequality Have a Good Side? on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

ADDED: Although Epstein doesn’t say it explicitly, essentially he describes “economic inequality” as a benign effect, rather than a malignant cause. Understanding the difference leads to understanding why allowing for the greatest number of opportunities works better at increasing everyone’s wealth instead of trying to equalize outcomes.

* Thanks to DWPittelli for pointing out this misattribution in the comments (“It was the Reverend William John Henry Boetcker (1873–1962) who wrote “you cannot help the poor by destroying the rich” and 9 other related aphorisms in 1916. A printing error in 1942 led to the confusion between some Lincoln quotes and these Boetcker quotes.”).

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33 Responses to “You can’t make the poor rich by making the rich poorer”

  • What is so silly with this inequality thing is that every time they try to do something about it they make it worse.
    Back in 1993, Clinton had the “millionaires’ tax”.  The direct result was that cash salaries for management types in the 1% were capped at $1 million, but was made up with stock options.  What ensued was what PBS’ “Frontline” called the “biggest transfer of equity in the history of the world,” as about 10% of the equity in these corporations was transferred from the stockholders (individuals, pension funds, etc.) to the management of these corporations over the following decade.  Since most of this transfer was hidden in plain sight, it is almost never mentioned in the discussion of economic inequality.

    • Do you have a source for this information? I’m unable to find a source myself backing this up. If this information is correct, then it has some interesting implications beyond those that you’re suggesting.

  • I agree with Epstein on everything of substance that he says here. However, it was not Lincoln who said, “you can’t make the poor rich by making the rich poor.” It was the Reverend William John Henry Boetcker (1873–1962) who wrote “you cannot help the poor by destroying the rich” and 9 other related aphorisms in 1916. A printing error in 1942 led to the confusion between some Lincoln quotes and these Boetcker quotes. See http://www.snopes.com/quotes/lincoln/prosperity.asp

  • I also found the conflation of cause and effect interesting in the PBS commentators reference to the period of growth and prosperity in the 50’s, with high tax rates.  The economy flourished in spite of the high marginal rates, because the US economy was the only game in town, helping to rebuild the rest of the world following thw war.  High growth is a bit tougher with more developed economies, and industrial infrastucture, spread globally.

    • Two other factors were in play; while the tax rates were very high, this was the era of serious loopholes and NOBODY (essentially) paid the high rates, AND Congress had finally killed enough of the New Deal to allow some capitalism to flourish.

      • This was also the era of the ‘brain drain’. Lots of well-educated and productive British and other European folks emigrated to the US during this period due to extremely high taxes in GB and generally lousy conditions in the rest of Europe.

        • As well, what government spending there was went to the “military/industrial complex (i.e., manufacturing…making STUFF).
          In the 1950s, Defense spending was about 60% of the Federal budget, as opposed to the 16-18% now.
          The 1950’s GDP growth average 3.5%, under a world-wide rebuild (as pointed out), but we did the same rate after Reagan, with hardball competition from Asia, Japan, and the Pacific Rim.

    • In addition to the US being the only developed nation without a shattered infrastructure after WW2, businesses didn’t have OSHA, minimum wage laws, the EPA and other government imposed friction.

    • “because the US economy was the only game in town”
       
      I used that very argument in an economics class. Repeatedly. If looks could kill…..

  • The only point of disagreement with him is on inheritance taxes. You can make the case against inheritance taxes on the basis that they are unfair, or that they do not take in much money for the government etc.  But his argument simply falls flat.
    Large inheritances are sometimes well managed by the next generation, (Steve Forbes), rarely by the second generation, and by the third generation you have Kennedy trust funders. So that a tax which broke up the very largest of the inheritances might actually force more capital into better, or at least new investments.
    I am only making a logical argument here, I am not calling for inheritance taxes.  By the same token, they do not bother me much as long as there is provision to protect small family business or farms.

    • “…might actually force more capital into better, or at least new investments.”

      This is a confusion I often see.  Capital in the hands of, say, a trust fundee, is no less beneficial than it would be in someone else’s hands, and could easily be MUCH MORE beneficial.  It ain’t sitting around in a basement, and OFTEN is better managed to earn MORE capital than are other funds.
      Besides, TRUSTS are EXPLICIT vehicles to defeat transfer taxes (and spendthrift progeny).

      • Yes, indeed!
        Capital ALWAYS flows to it’s best, most efficient use.

        • (Too fast on the “Post” button)
          That’s why the “One Percenters” ARE the One Percenters…and the Ten Percenters are who they are, and on down the line.
          It’s also why the One Percenters change their members continuously…especially over a decade or so.
          And in the One Perceters, less than about 15-20% of that wealth is inherited. America created the concept of “Nouveau Riche”.

    • …they do not bother me much as long as there is provision to protect small family business or farms.

      The ethical considerations of people who did nothing to create a business plundering what those who did has nothing, whatsoever, to do with what “bothers” you or doesn’t.  Your feelings don’t determine right and wrong.  If it isn’t your farm, your business, your fortune, then it isn’t up to you to decide how it should be dispensed upon the death of another.  That’s up to the owner who died, bequeathing what is rightfully his/hers as he/she sees fit.
      If you feel bad when you see a small family business or farm torn asunder by government vultures upon the death of an owner, but not when the vultures go after people who are more wealthy, then it’s a flaw in your character that you must witness a certain type of human suffering in order to apply moral principles.  Because you abandon those very same principles when you don’t see the suffering having such a direct result, you’re not a reliable source for determining morality and you should butt out of what doesn’t concern you.
       

      • I simply disagree, There is something to be said about not allowing accumulated wealth to invest in a permanent over-class of neo-aristocrats. You speak like it is some great crime to tax a dead person, but it is not. It is much more beneficial to the economy to tax the dead more and the living less.
        However, your sanctimonious certitude was entertaining.

    • I think his argument is more along the lines of the argument for diversifying your investments: i.e. with more potential outcomes, the good ones tend to outpace the bad ones.

      Even so, whether or not the family holds onto the wealth is immaterial since they have to do something with it in the economy (unless they just burn it, I suppose).  Even if some of the beneficiaries of family wealth spend it on risky ventures or pure acquisitiveness, the spending benefits the economy overall.  Plus, at least some of the time those risky ventures pan out, which makes us all better off.

      • Even so, whether or not the family holds onto the wealth is immaterial…

        Immaterial to whom?  Certainly it isn’t immaterial to the family, nor to the decedent.  Nor is it immaterial to any decent person who respects property rights.

        …spending benefits the economy overall…which makes us all better off.

        Collectivist, utilitarian tripe.
        One obvious counterexample to show the latter phrase is false is this: If the money is spent investing in a fitness retailer and I own a competing business down the street, that certainly doesn’t make me better off.
        “All” is a very big word and you shouldn’t use it unless it’s actually true.

        • Actually, you are showing your economic ignorance again.  MichaelW was EXACTLY CORRECT.
          But, hey, I’ll just hold your coat…

        • “Immaterial to whom?  Certainly it isn’t immaterial to the family, nor to the decedent.”

          We’re saying the same thing.  To be clear it’s immaterial to everyone other than the person to whom the wealth belongs.

          “Collectivist, utilitarian tripe.”

          Well, it’s awfully difficult to have an economy of one. The fact that people spend their inheritance somehow would tend to increase economic activity, which tends to benefit us all.  Adam Smith called this the “invisible hand”.

          “One obvious counterexample to show the latter phrase is false is this: If the money is spent investing in a fitness retailer and I own a competing business down the street, that certainly doesn’t make me better off.”

          Unless, of course, you suck at that business, or aren’t promoting it to its fullest extent.  The competition will either drive you out of the market (and into something where, hopefully, your talents are better utilized), or you will thrive even more from the increased competition by innovating or providing a better product.

          Plus, while it’s true that those who wish to maintain a monopoly are going to have such goals impaired, those people are also consumers whose choices in that arena are increased by free market competition.

          • We’re saying the same thing.  To be clear it’s immaterial to everyone other than the person to whom the wealth belongs.”

            Except as an outsider, when I see the property rights of others trampled, the result of a lifetime’s productivity plundered by people who had no part in the productivity stealing under color of law, that affects me in a number of ways.  I learn to distrust and loathe those wielding government power even more.  I lose respect for the law and see no moral value in following it.  I alter my plans for where I put my wealth, to prevent the vultures from depriving my heirs of what belongs to them.  I know a number of people who have chosen to forgo earning interest just so no taxman gets a single penny.

            Well, it’s awfully difficult to have an economy of one. The fact that people spend their inheritance somehow would tend to increase economic activity, which tends to benefit us all.

            Repeating your argument isn’t actually supporting your argument.  I understand how economic activity works and it’s your straw man that anyone suggests any “economy of one”.  Just because everyone is engaged in commerce with others doesn’t mean that each individual benefits when there is an increase in activity.  We’re not a bunch of cells in a great big organism.  We’re individuals and “the economy” is a shorthand, simplistic way to refer to the trillions of value exchanges between pairs of individuals.  Sure, when people around me are engaging in more exchanges, competing, innovating, dividing labor, specializing, all of that tends to provide me with better opportunities.
            But too many arguments are made that something will “benefit the economy” to justify what are unethical actions.  Like, for example, a politician promising that raising taxes to pay for a sports stadium will benefit the local economy.  Actually, it benefits the team owner, the people involved in the league, and retailers within a few blocks of the stadium.  It may be of value to the subset of the population who go to games or care about the team being in their town.  But other people who pay more taxes, who don’t care about the team or the sport, who don’t live near the stadium, get no net benefit.  The cost in increased taxes outweighs any indirect benefit.  As for the people who used to own property where the stadium is built, they may actually be screwed over by eminent domain.  And then, a few years later, the team owner blackmails the politicians into building yet another stadium or he takes his team to another town, making chumps of everyone.
            Those sorts of cons, plus all sorts of “public works”, “revitalization”, etc. are played out all the time, and the politicians inevitably promise that it will “benefit the economy”.
            While you can make such arguments to persuade people to voluntarily invest their money in a venture, which is their choice, you cannot use the argument that something will “benefit us all” to use force to take from others to spend on something you determine is of more value.
            Simply put: it is unethical to tax an inheritance (allow government to plunder), even if it doing so provides economic benefit to many people.  Stealing is wrong.  End of story.
            Adam Smith’s invisible hand is a clumsy metaphor which attempts to anthropomorphize the sum total of various individual choices, which when taken beyond the point of simple illustration, provides an opportunity to inject collectivist fallacies into an argument.
            Free market capitalism isn’t ethical because the invisible hand improves opportunities for most people.  It’s ethical because it allows the individual to make his/her own choices via reason, not force from some central planner or kleptocratic dictator.

            Unless, of course, you suck at that business, or aren’t promoting it to its fullest extent.  The competition will either drive you out of the market (and into something where, hopefully, your talents are better utilized), or you will thrive even more from the increased competition by innovating or providing a better product.

            Competition benefits the consumer.  But it doesn’t universally benefit the seller.  If there are 3 fitness centers in town and you use copious inheritance money to open a 4th, then each of the existing centers may lose 25% of their previous customers.  You could be a lousy businessman who offers lower quality service, but have enough cash on hand to be unconcerned about your profit margin, while your competitors are using their profits to put food on the table.
            I’m not arguing that it’s wrong.  If it’s your money, you get to do with it what you want.  If I can’t sustain an acceptable profit with the entry of a new competitor, then I have to accept that reality and adjust.  Just don’t pretend that it benefits everyone.  With competition, there are winners and losers.
            And forget monopolies.  Those only persist when backed by the government.  Just imagine if your grandfather’s estate is plundered and the government uses that money to open up ObamaFit centers to ensure that everyone has access to fitness facilities (with the excuse that it will drive down the cost of health care, which, of course, you’re entitled to demand of your neighbor since ObamaPelosiCare means everyone is responsible for everyone else’s health).
            I could accept that you used your inheritance to open a business which drove down my profits.  You have every right to do so.
            But I won’t accept that the government plunders that inheritance for any reason.

          • @Elliot:
            I have no idea who you think you’re arguing with, but it sure as hell isn’t me.
            First of all, I’m making an economic argument, while you seem to be fixated on an ethical one.  As you seem to understand yourself, the two don’t necessarily always work together.  So I’m not sure what you think you’re trying to accomplish.
            “I understand how economic activity works …”
            You aren’t exactly demonstrating that.  Just sayin’.
            “Just because everyone is engaged in commerce with others doesn’t mean that each individual benefits when there is an increase in activity.”
            Actually, yes it does.  Each transaction makes both parties better off, or they wouldn’t do it.  And an expanding economy creates more opportunities for everyone, whether they partake or not.  You’re right that some people may be very sad that they cannot monopolize a street corner like they did previously, or that some Luddites may become disillusioned and very upset with the world.  But that has nothing to do with my economic arguments.
            “But too many arguments are made that something will “benefit the economy” to justify what are unethical actions.  Like, for example, a politician promising that raising taxes to pay for a sports stadium will benefit the local economy. [blah, blah, blah, long rambling rant that has nothing to do with anything I've written].”
            This is the most bizarre of all your retorts.  Nowhere have I made any suggestion that I’m talking about anything other than voluntary exchanges.  You, on the other hand, dive into a long harangue about government intervention in the economy (the very thing I’m arguing against).  Stating the fact that society is better off with more voluntary exchange does not, in and of itself, mean that government intervention is justified.  How you got so confused on this point is a mystery.
            “Simply put: it is unethical to tax an inheritance (allow government to plunder), even if it doing so provides economic benefit to many people.  Stealing is wrong.  End of story.”
            Who’s arguing with you on this?  Or is that you think that only this argument is valid — i.e. making an economic argument is extraneous and useless?  If so, i really don’t care.  I try to make economic arguments because people who throw ethical ones around tend to come off as moralistic a**holes who rarely persuade anyone they are right.
            “Adam Smith’s invisible hand is a clumsy metaphor which attempts to anthropomorphize the sum total of various individual choices, which when taken beyond the point of simple illustration, provides an opportunity to inject collectivist fallacies into an argument.”
            Please provide one example of where the “invisible hand” metaphor was used to justify collectivist arguments.  I’ve seen it mocked, dismissed and derided as fantasy, followed by interjection of collectivist fantasies, but they do that with any argument.  I’ve never once seen the concept of the invisible hand used to support such collectivist fantasies.
            “Competition benefits the consumer.  But it doesn’t universally benefit the seller. [blah, blah, blah ...].”
            Ironically enough, you make the same arguments that anti-big-box-store zealots do when trying to prevent a new Wal-Mart, etc. from being built.  The fact is that creative destruction does occur, and yet we do all still tend to better off.  Are there some who don’t adjust?  Sure.  But if that’s the nit you want to pick, it’s pretty pointless.
            “But I won’t accept that the government plunders that inheritance for any reason.”
            And?  Where have I said otherwise?

          • I’m making an economic argument, while you seem to be fixated on an ethical one.

            Economic arguments are ethical arguments.  Ludwig von Mises characterized human action, praxeology, as encompassing all exchanges of values, whether the values were things you could hold in your hand or those things traditionally considered to be of monetary value, or moral values.  The same moral principles apply throughout.  You get to decide how much a given value is worth to you, whether it’s how much you’re willing to pay for a car, how much time to spend with your kid, or helping a neighbor who is elderly.
            When one attempts to compartmentalize human activity which involves money from other interactions, one leaves the door open for special exceptions.

            “Just because everyone is engaged in commerce with others doesn’t mean that each individual benefits when there is an increase in activity.”

            Actually, yes it does. Each transaction makes both parties better off, or they wouldn’t do it.

            Note how you slip from “each individual” in a community to “both parties” in a transaction.  Those are not the same thing.  That is your fundamental error.

            …monopolize a street corner…some Luddites…

            Spare me the straw man nonsense.  I already refuted your previous attempt to tag me with the monopoly straw man.  Really, it’s your argument, and you get to keep it.  Quit trying to pretend it has anything to do with me.

            Nowhere have I made any suggestion that I’m talking about anything other than voluntary exchanges.

            Good.  My point is that the utilitarian/collectivist reasons for advocating free market capitalism open the door for others to use such arguments to try to justify non-voluntary exchanges.  Excuse me if my radar pops up when I see the utilitarian explanations, such as the “invisible hand”.

            Stating the fact that society is better off with more voluntary exchange…

            Here’s a perfect example.  “Society” as an entity which can be “better off” is an example of the ambiguous collective fallacy.  Society is made up of individuals.  You could argue that, statistically, the vast majority of people in society are going to be better off, but to try to shorthand that as the entire group being “better off” is lazy and, again, opens the door for the collectivists to turn such arguments back around on you.

            I try to make economic arguments because people who throw ethical ones around tend to come off as moralistic a**holes who rarely persuade anyone they are right.

            See above.  You can’t make an economic argument without making an ethical argument, whether you realize it or not.  We’re all philosophers.  You need not be a pointy-headed academic to make decisions on a moral framework with which to run your life, nor be afraid of finding the underlying principles in any argument.
            Also, if you think the goal of “moralistic a-holes” is to persuade others, you’re so far off the map it isn’t funny.

            Please provide one example of where the “invisible hand” metaphor was used to justify collectivist arguments.  I’ve seen it mocked, dismissed and derided as fantasy, followed by interjection of collectivist fantasies, but they do that with any argument.  I’ve never once seen the concept of the invisible hand used to support such collectivist fantasies.

            The “invisible hand” is, at root, a utilitarian one which asserts benefit to “society” (the collective).  If you eschew moralistic arguments as counterproductive, and stick to those which you assume will persuade others who might otherwise fall for the utilitarian arguments of big government advocates, you’ve ceded half the field to the enemy and agreed to play the game on his terms.
            From Usenet to weblogs to social media, I’ve seen innumerable attempts to discredit capitalism and I’m sure if I spent a few hours on google I could find a few examples.  But the real danger is not that the anti-capitalists use the “invisible hand” to support their arguments.  Rather, the danger is that people who are defending capitalism fail to attend to the principles and naively or unwittingly fall into the trap of playing the rules by the opponent’s rules.
            For me, it’s good that free market capitalism, in the long run, tends to improve opportunities for the vast majority of the population.  That is obvious.  But it is more important that two private individuals are free to come to an arrangement which is mutually beneficial.  That, in and of itself, makes it ethically superior to outside interference.  Outsiders may very well benefit, but even if they don’t, or even if they lose out on opportunities, it still is not their business to interfere with the two private individuals making the exchange.

            Ironically enough, you make the same arguments that anti-big-box-store zealots do when trying to prevent a new Wal-Mart, etc. from being built.

            Actually, I explicitly stated just the opposite:

            If it’s your money, you get to do with it what you want.  If I can’t sustain an acceptable profit with the entry of a new competitor, then I have to accept that reality and adjust….I could accept that you used your inheritance to open a business which drove down my profits.  You have every right to do so.

            My point is that it’s false to claim that everyone benefits and it also doesn’t matter if your personal economic activity causes me problems due to lost market.  It’s your right to open your business.  How is that anything at all like the anti-Wal-Mart nitwits?

            The fact is that creative destruction does occur, and yet we do all still tend to better off.  Are there some who don’t adjust?  Sure.  But if that’s the nit you want to pick, it’s pretty pointless.

            My complaint is with your use of the word “all”.  It is wrong.  You are writing things which are not true.  You can call that a “nit” but I don’t.  The primary reason I don’t is that once you allow yourself to disregard such inaccuracies as inconsequential, you’re playing the game by the collectivist’s rules.  They come back with arguments about how we’re all better off when tax money pays for education, health care, etc..  And, since you chose not to be precise, you don’t get to “nitpick” their arguments, because then you simply look like you’re making special exceptions for capitalism.
            Be accurate in your language, avoid the ambiguous collective fallacy, and you don’t have to worry about that.  When an anti-capitalist uses such fallacies, you’re free to point out the error of using that fallacy, without having to explain why it’s OK when you do it.

          • @Elliot:

            Your assertion that economic arguments are the same as ethical/moral arguments is simply false. They rely on completely different premises and only one is supported by empirical evidence.

            “Note how you slip from “each individual” in a community to “both parties” in a transaction. Those are not the same thing. That is your fundamental error.”

            You think you’re on to something there, but you’re way off base. When talking about economic interactions, there must be necessarily more than one party involved. Examining the effects on all of them does not inexorably lead to collectivist fallacies. Quite to the contrary, it establishes a way to understand how protecting individual rights is actually superior to promoting collective rights.

            “Spare me the straw man nonsense. I already refuted your previous attempt to tag me with the monopoly straw man. Really, it’s your argument, and you get to keep it. Quit trying to pretend it has anything to do with me.”

            Really? Because this was the bulk of your tirade against my use of the word “all”:

            One obvious counterexample to show the latter phrase is false is this: If the money is spent investing in a fitness retailer and I own a competing business down the street, that certainly doesn’t make me better off.

            Now perhaps you meant you were one of several already competing businesses, but that’s not what you wrote. Taking the plain meaning of your language in context, you seemed to be stating that your economic interests as the only fitness retailer would be harmed. Aside from that not being necessarily, or even usually, true (e.g. investigate how market share actually works, such as why McDonald’s will not build a store unless a similar competing business is nearby), your example appears to be one in which you have a monopoly that is now subject to competition, and thus you are harmed. No straw man there.

            “Good. My point is that the utilitarian/collectivist reasons for advocating free market capitalism open the door for others to use such arguments to try to justify non-voluntary exchanges. Excuse me if my radar pops up when I see the utilitarian explanations, such as the “invisible hand”.”

            You again confuse economic with ethical arguments, as well as “advocating” with “explaining.” When collectivists attempt to prove that group rights, government intervention in the economy, etc. are superior to individual rights by pointing to the alleged effects on society (a moral argument BTW), they can’t do so using sound economics. The use of economic arguments to show the fallacy in their thinking (e.g. that government redistribution of wealth does not in fact improve the lot of society), it’s simply throwing facts and logic in the face of what is essential emotional reasoning. Speaking in terms of “society” does not cede anything, since that is where the collectivists are already focused. Showing that their policies do not have the effect on society that they suppose (and that supporting individual rights actually has a more salient effect) is not “advocating” but “deconstructing.”

            Indeed, the invisible hand isn’t a utilitarian explanation at all, but instead an observation on the accumulative effects of purely self-interested individual decisions. That such effects benefit society more than any dirigiste policy is simply a refutation of such policies.

            IOW, while extolling the benefits to society at large can be used to make a utilitarian, and/or collectivist argument, showing that society is better off under one system rather than another (e.g. capitalism vs. communism) is to make an empirical rather than ethical/moral argument.

            “‘Society’ as an entity which can be ‘better off’ is an example of the ambiguous collective fallacy. Society is made up of individuals”

            Society isn’t a fallacy, and it’s more than just a group of individuals. That a society can be better off as a whole is a statement of fact, which should be obvious by just comparing, say, New York City to Cairo. It’s more than just the different individuals that makes the difference. It’s also the differing rules of law, social norms and government structures. The same could be said about the difference between NYC and Houston, TX, although it’s a milder difference.

            The point is that speaking in terms of a policy’s effect on society does nothing to promote collectivism. Instead, making arguments about society at large allows the members of that society (i.e. individuals) to make well-informed decisions about what sorts of policies that want to support. Since every individual is different, making the case that any particular policy either harms or benefits some particular individual isn’t particularly helpful.

            “From Usenet to weblogs to social media, I’ve seen innumerable attempts to discredit capitalism and I’m sure if I spent a few hours on google I could find a few examples. But the real danger is not that the anti-capitalists use the “invisible hand” to support their arguments. Rather, the danger is that people who are defending capitalism fail to attend to the principles and naively or unwittingly fall into the trap of playing the rules by the opponent’s rules.”

            You mean like by using Marxist terms such as “capitalism”?

            “But it is more important that two private individuals are free to come to an arrangement which is mutually beneficial.”

            That’s my preference as well. Just because I choose to present economic arguments to prove that my preference is superior, that does not cede anything.

            “My complaint is with your use of the word “all”. It is wrong.”

            You’re still picking at nits. And it’s not wrong (again, compare NYC to Cairo — where would you rather try to run your business?).

          • Your assertion that economic arguments are the same as ethical/moral arguments is simply false.

            You’ve fallen for the common error.  I recommend you take a gander at Human Action (full text available on-line).
            If you revise your statement to specify that accounting is independent of ethics, you would be correct.  But the second you make any sort of value judgment, like claiming that one course of action is better than another, you’re involved in ethics, whether you’re aware of it or not.

            They rely on completely different premises and only one is supported by empirical evidence.

            Making decisions based upon empirical evidence is an example of choosing a utilitarian moral approach.
            Note that a free market capitalist does well to invoke empirical evidence, to persuade others to engage in voluntary, mutual, consensual exchanges, rather than resorting to force.  But if reason fails to convince the other party, then you demonstrate the ethics of individual rights by resisting aggressive force.
            Evidence.  Ethics.  It’s all there.
            The problem is that people have been inculcated with the false notion that morality is a subset of human activity which can be roped off, compartmentalized, and pushed to the back of dusty shelves with holy books and long-winded philosophers.
            But ethics are a part of all decisions you make which involve others.  We’re all philosophers.
            I lack the time or inclination to Fisk the remainder of your reply now.

  • The only problem with this excellent vid is that most of the (Ivy League) trained apes among the Revolting Eloi will simply blink in bewilderment at the simple economics Epstein explains.
    I remember Phil Donahue with Milton Friedman.  The WHOOOOSH of ideas flying over Phil’s head was enough to knock you down.

  • http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2011/10/bruce_meyer_on.html
     
    This is a must-listen podcast about income inequality. Seems the common wisdom is incorrect and after including taxes and adjusting for inflation, income inequality is not growing.

  • There is only one problem with Mr. Epstein’s quote: Lincoln
    never said that and there is no record that Lincoln ever said anything of the
    kind.